This year's first Demo Night, the seventh since it's inception back in 2004, was hosted once again by the Parsons New School of Design in New York City. This time around, 5 games were showcased to the audience in the usual fashion - team members would explain gameplay details as well as delve into some of the background involved with developing the games. Large Animal and Gamelab, both veterans of Demo Night, covered this aspect very well. The other games showcased talked more about gameplay than actual development, although Kris Schlacter's small fluid dynamics presentation using Flash at the end of the Princess Bride demo was very cool. So grab some munchies and a drink and make yourself comfortable, because as usual the crew from Heavy Melody was in attendance recording video of the event. For pictures, check out our Facebook gallery. If you've not experienced past Demo Nights, you can look at my coverage of Demo Night VI, which will also lead you back to Demo Night V.
As usual, the event was hosted by the NYC IGDA Chapter Coordinator Wade Tinney from Large Animal Games.
Steve Bull, the creator of this mobile game, was onhand to talk about how the game works. While it was more of a gameplay presentation than a game development presentation, the idea behind the game - mobile tag - is something many developers have been interested in for some time. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact a game like this will have when it's released to the public. Hopefully I don't get run over in the mall by a group of kids running around to stay in range of their target...
You are both predator and prey in Game Park, a real world social networking GPS cell phone tag game. There are only two dots on your cell phone map: your position and the prey you're hunting. What you don't see is who is hunting you--your predator sees you every time you check the location of your prey. Game Park is presented on the uLocate/WHERE.com platform as a Java ME download. Founded in 2000 in NYC, Cutlass, Inc. is a leading location-based wireless entertainment and information production company. Game Park is a finalist in NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge with final judging in Las Vegas April 2, 2008.
Company: Cutlass Inc.
Release Date: April 2008
Platform(s): J2ME GPS cell phones
Total Development Time: 6 months
Full Time Team Size: 1
Total Team Size: 3
Fun Fact: Win contests then distribute as business model.
Jojo's Fashion Show
Gamelab got first licks on the fashion casual game market. There hasn't been a whole lot of serious work in this area of product development since the Barbie Doll fashion game in the 90's, but research has proven that there's an audience out there. Gamelab's approach was a simple gameplay mechanic of dressing up your models to match certain seasons of wear, getting them ready for the catwalk. The main draw was all the dozens upon dozens of different fashions that people could unlock in the game, providing a way for Gamelab to continue the game's growth by releasing new clothing styles.
20 years ago, Jojo Cruz was the hottest name in fashion. Then she suddenly retired to run her own boutique and raise her family. Now with her daughter Rosalind, Jojo is ready to show the fashion world she's still got style. Does she still have the impeccable sense of mixing and matching that earned her the nickname, Mistress of Mix? Help Jojo storm back onto the runway as she stages fabulous fashion shows from New York to Paris to Milan. Make stylish outfits from cute tops, elegant dresses and stunning heels as you showcase your fashion sense on the runway.
Release Date: December 7, 2007
Total Development Time: 9 months
Full Time Team Size: 3
Total Team Size: 8
Fun Fact: With all of the clothes, accessories and model looks you can make a total of 1,549,427,200,000 unique outfits.
Large Animal was next to take a stab at the fashion market with their casual game, based around the concept of solitaire. In addition to the matching clothing to models mechanic, Large Animal took a feature from one of their previous titles as well. Snapshot Adventures was a game they showcased at Demo Night V and featured models that could be modified by the player to create their own unique birds for use in the game. Taking this tech, Large Animal applied it to this game to allow people to create their own fashions to apply on the models in the game.
How do you combine the flexible mix-and-match play style of a dress-up game with the constraints of solitaire? How do you give someone millions of clothing options without hiring thousands of artists and requiring a huge download? These were some of our design goals with Fashion Solitaire. In this mash-up of solitaire and fashion, players earn cash by matching garments to models, designing their own clothes, and creating signature clothing lines in eight different styles
Company: Large Animal Games
Release Date: March 1, 2008
Dev Time (calendar): 7 months
Team Size (full time): 4
Team Size (total): 8
Fun Fact: Over 4068 index cards were harmed in the making of this game.
Autonomous Digital Actors: The Illusion of Life Revisited
Procedural - the latest games industry buzzword. Mainly applied to content generation like artwork and sound, there are many other applications that are being explored as well, such as animation. This demo was very interesting, especially from a technical standpoint, as CTO Ken Perlin went through the various stages of the technology's design. The ultimate goal is a character that you can "direct" much as you would a real actor.
The future of computer games and animated films is not in spaceships or dragons or laser death rays, but rather in the mysteries of the human heart. Actor Machine is pioneering the field of ADA (Autonomous Digital Actors) by developing technologies that allow the creation and directing of emotive digital actors that can be used in linear animation (film/pre-visualization), games, virtual worlds, simulations or live (real time) performances. We will show some of the work towards breathing life into interactive characters. These techniques may point the way to a new era where cinema intersects with interactive narrative and on-line community. These techniques/technologies will also be available for use with linear animation using our Maya/Max plug-in (available May '08)
Company: Actor Machine, LLC
- May 2008 for Movement Maya/Max Plug-in
- Summer/Fall 2008 for Gesture Maya/Max Plug-in
- Winter 2008 For Full Scripting Application and Core Engine
Total Development Time: 10 years of thought, 4 years seriously
Fun Fact: In 1968 alone, 8 tons of paper were wasted by the US Post office on perforations for Postage Stamps.
The Princess Bride Game
Seriously, who isn't a fan of this awesome fairy tale movie? You'd think a game like this would have been released ages ago (maybe I just never heard about it), but finally someone has been able to bring it to market. Developed in Flash, the game covers the major aspects of the motion picture and is officially licensed, which means they were able to make things look like the game and the voice actors they hired on sounded impressively like the actual characters. Miracle Max in particular - bravo for the chap who can do such a great Billy Crystal. The cool part though is at the end, when Kris Schlacter talks about how he implemented fluid dynamics in Flash to make a cauldron mix liquids.
Help the Princess and her True Love defeat dastardly villains, survive the Fire Swamp, find miracle remedies, and vanquish the evil prince in order to live happily ever after. Along the way you play as and interact with a cast of your favorite characters including Buttercup, Westley, Inigo, Fezzik, Vizzini and Miracle Max. Compete for high scores and advance through dozens of levels that are simple to start, addictive to play and challenging to master. Experience true love and high adventure! The Official Princess Bride Game combines the best of animation with the best of casual and adventure games - all based on the classic hit movie.
Company: Worldwide Biggies
Release Date: Summer 2008
Total Development Time (calendar time): 8 months
Full Time Team Size: 12
Total Team Size: 20
Fun Fact: One of the animator/designers working on the game actually designed a t-shirt that was in the original movie in Fred Savage's bedroom - he's recreating it for the game.